Gritty Dragons edged out at Edinburgh
Gritty Dragons produced a spirited display in Scotland as they were edged out 20-7 by play-off hopefuls Edinburgh Rugby in the Guinness PRO14.
Centre Adam Warren celebrated bring up his century of appearances with a well-worked second half score at BT Murrayfield.
But it was the home side, who welcomed back a number of Scotland internationals after the Rugby World Cup, who dug deep to claim the win in arctic cold conditions in the capital.
Boss Dean Ryan will take plenty of positives from the league encounter as his team showed huge heart and resolve in defence to frustrate the repel the for long periods.
And now he will hope to take that momentum into Europe as the focus switches to a new competition over the next two weeks.
Ryan made one change to his starting line-up, with centre Jack Dixon recalled after the previous week’s defeat at champions Leinster.
It was also a major milestone for Dixon’s midfield partner Warren who led the team out to mark his 100th appearance for the region.
A strong start from the visitors saw Harri Keddie and Jack Dixon thunder into contact before a third minute penalty from fly half Sam Davies, after the hosts failed to roll away, just drifted wide from the touchline.
The always dangerous Jordan Williams looked to wriggle out of a tackle as Ryan’s troops enjoyed early territory before home back row Luke Crosbie secured a crucial turnover.
Edinburgh’s first attack of the game saw them turn down a simple penalty for the posts, after Dragons pulled down the maul, and go to the corner.
A powerful shunt from the lineout saw them go over the whitewash, only for referee George Clancy to call them back after twice telling them to use it earlier.
However, on 15 minutes more pack pressure forced Dragons back and when play was spread wide a neat backs play sent full back Blair Kinghorn over, with Simon Hickey converting the opening try.
A superb break from Taine Basham blew the home defence wide open at the mid-point of the half, as he tore up the middle before the ball was worked wide for Ashton Hewitt to inject pace.
A scrum penalty gave fly half Davies a second shot at the posts, but this time he saw his effort bounce back off the left upright.
Pressure from Edinburgh at the end of the half saw them turn the screw with several lineout drives and scrums, but Dragons held firm as Hickey finally took the three points on offer for a 10-0 lead at the interval.
Edinburgh thought they had scored two minutes after the restart as centre Matt Scott flew over from a slick lineout move. But play was, rightly, brought back for a forward pass in the build-up.
End to end stuff saw Scott nearly break away again before Jordan Williams scooped up and tore down the left touchline, only to be unceremoniously barged over by lock Ben Toolis who was yellow carded after a TMO consultation.
Keddie, Harris, Dixon and Hibbard all carried strongly, but a key turnover from man-of-the-match Scott halted momentum just as Dragons threatened.
A big home attack then saw Huw Taylor yellow carded on his own try line and Hickey nudged Edinburgh further ahead with a simple kick.
Dragons produced a moment of clinical class on hour as, from a scrum set piece move, a gap was exploited by Davies who brilliantly sent Warren over with a delayed pass to cut the lead to 13-7.
Edinburgh hit back, now with the extra man, with big wing Duhan van der Merwe ending a sweeping move left with a simple finish out wide.
A frenetic finish saw Dragons push for a losing bonus point after repelling late home heat.
And Jenkins almost had the score when Jordan Williams hacked ahead, but the ball ran dead after a footrace up the flank.
15m Kinghorn t Hickey c 7-0
40m Hickey p 10-0
55m Hickey p 13-0
58m Warren t Davies c 13-7
63m van der Merwe t Hickey c 20-7
Edinburgh: Blair Kinghorn, Eroni Sau, Mark Bennett, Matt Scott, Duhan van der Merwe, Simon Hickey, Henry Pyrgos (c); Pierre Schoeman, Mike Willemse, Pietro Ceccarelli, Lewis Carmichael, Ben Toolis, John Barclay, Luke Crosbie, Magnus Bradbury
Replacements: Cameron Fenton, Rory Sutherland, Simon Berghan, Grant Gilchrist, Jamie Ritchie, Charlie Shiel, Jaco van der Walt, George Taylor
Dragons: Jordan Williams, Owen Jenkins, Adam Warren, Jack Dixon (Morgan 70), Ashton Hewitt, Sam Davies, Rhodri Williams (Baldwin 75); Brok Harris (Reynolds 79), Richard Hibbard, Leon Brown (Fairbrother 65), Joe Davies (M. Williams 70), Matthew Screech, Huw Taylor, Taine Basham (Benjamin 67), Harrison Keddie
Replacements: Ellis Shipp, Josh Reynolds, Lloyd Fairbrother, Max Williams, James Benjamin, Luke Baldwin, Arwel Robson, Tyler Morgan
Referee: George Clancey (IRE)